Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Number one New York Times best seller
In her latest book, Brené Brown writes, “If we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and to be stewards of the stories that we hear. This is the framework for meaningful connection.”
In Atlas of the Heart, Brown takes us on a journey through 87 of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances - a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.
Over the past two decades, Brown’s extensive research into the experiences that make us who we are has shaped the cultural conversation and helped define what it means to be courageous with our lives. Atlas of the Heart draws on this research, as well as on Brown’s singular skills as a storyteller, to show us how accurately naming an experience doesn’t give the experience more power, it gives us the power of understanding, meaning, and choice.
Brown shares, “I want this book to be an atlas for all of us, because I believe that, with an adventurous heart and the right maps, we can travel anywhere and never fear losing ourselves.”
Includes a downloadable PDF of illustrations from the book
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 29 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||February 14 2022|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #46 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Emotions (Audible Books & Originals)
#5 in Social Psychology & Interactions (Books)
#6 in Psychology
Reviewed in Canada on September 15, 2022
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Top reviews from Canada
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I have purchased this book in its physical form which is well worth it because of the nature of its layout. I have now purchased it on kindle for the purpose of further study and portability. However also for the the additional purpose of leaving a review. I want to leave a review because I see other reviews that are completely missing the point. This book is a map not a book of answers. Maps represent possibility it is up to you if you want to go on the adventure. Your individuality and uniqueness make it impossible to find direct answers as to what you require to become whole. You have to use the map and be willing to go on the journey.
Now about the crying…
Brene is getting closer to truths. The other books two or three good bawls each. This one I am now only one sixth completed and already have surpassed all the others.
I am in the journey, following the map. It is scary, painful, but in a certain way provides the elation of freedom after going through the pain.
Thanks to Brene and her team for this.
I have now finished the book over a two day read marathon. My opinion of the content has not changed. Still very positive. As noted this becomes your own personal journey, I found it worthwhile and will re-read the book again very soon. Yes, I found it that important.
An interesting thing about the physical book and all it’s emotional content I found myself stroking the book and pages as if to make a connection with the book. The physical form of the book makes it a worth while purchase. The layout of the book creates a connection of sorts with the content of the book. I don’t have answers about this, I just found it interesting.
I wish you well on your own journey.
Read this book. No, ingest this book, devour this book and open up to find a space inside to let it sit and simmer.
Thank you Brené. You have changed 'me'. I just finished it and I am ready to begin to read it again.
Top reviews from other countries
As to the content, Brené Brown never disappoints, and has a genuine talent to bring clarity and depth to concepts and notions that may seem ordinary since we all use them every day. Yet, when we read to her clever and research-informed definitions of these concepts, it opens our eyes, our minds, our hearts to their true meaning. This alone can bring some powerful reframing of any life experience.
She also shares some true stories from a diversity of people, which furthers our understanding of how these concepts are intimately connected to our emotional life.
Overall, this is a book to return to - one where you will always find a refreshing new perspective when you open it for the hundredth time. I would definitely have loved receiving such precise and helpful guidelines to learn how to navigate life through less confusion and hightened understanding when I was a lost teen.
So, if you or any of your loved one are experiencing being at a loss in regards to emotions, human relationships, or even life in general from a psychological perspective, then getting this book might very well provide the lifeline or light in the dark you will benefit from.
The reason for my 2-star review is that "Atlas of the Heart" fails to provide the guidance about "meaningful connection" that it promises. Essentially, the book is premised on the belief that ordinary people, non-researchers, don't know how to name their emotions, nor do they know how to recognize them. And so, the book is filled with short instruction on 87 emotions. Each instruction begins with Brene Brown's definition of a term. It is followed by something along the lines of "You THINK you know what X is. What I have learned is Y."
You THINK you know what disappointment is, or grief, or gratitude, or belonging or surprise or curiosity. But no. You don't. So here is the correct definition, and here is the correct way to think about your experience. And this "Atlas" will provide the guidance you need. The reason to read it: "With an adverturous heart and the right maps, we can travel anywhere and never fear losing ourselves. Even when we don't know where we are."
Fundamentally, the book is saying, You don't have to go out and be in the world with other people to learn about any of this, you merely read the book and believe that Brene Brown and her research team is correct. And then your learning is done. This is a problem with all self-improvement books, but "Atlas of the Heart" is especially egregious because the promise is that the book will help you connect with others more meaningfully. It does not deliver on that promise. There is almost zero proof in the book that anyone who used Brene Brown's definitions of the emotions and her instruction changed their lives in any meaningful way. Often Brene Brown concludes a passage with "This is how I want to live." After five best sellers, she's still searching and searching for the right formula. If you belong to the "Always Seaching" tribe and want a book that will help you make a long aspirational list of how you want to live, then this book might be for you. But if you aspire to do more than read books and make aspirational lists, consider investing your time and money elsewhere.
The central problem with this book is that Brene Brown makes EVERYTHING in life so hard when it is not always that hard. For example, about curiosity she writes "Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty. We have to ask questions, admit to not knowing, risk being told that we shouldn't be asking, and sometimes, make discoveries that lead to discomfort."
In certain contexts, she's right. In certain contexts, like going up against a powerful person or group who benefits from the truth being obscured, then, yes, curiosity is a risk and your questions and discoveries will threaten the status quo. For sure, you will be vulnerable to criticism and you will probably experience scapegoating. Curiosity is very threatening to people in power who want things to remain the same. When you are curious about things that people in power and authority are doing, you ought to expect discomfort. You ought to anticipate and weigh the risk.
But to define the experience of "curiosity" the way Brene Brown does is to ignore three quarters of the human experience in which curiosity is a function of a healthy human mind. Curiosity is NOT "choosing to be vulnerable." It is exercising a natural human ability that has led to the most beautiful music, painting, sculpture, architecture, theatre, dance and design. A better message would be: Do the very opposite of "surrendering" to uncertainty. Go be curious with a group of people who have each other's backs.
The number of times words like "surrender" is used is hugely problematic. It is the recipe for even more vulnerabilty. It increases the demand for more books by Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown and other advice-givers. Our problem in our culture is how rarely anyone advises us "Go do X with a group of people who have each other's backs."
"Atlas of the Heart" is dangerous because it claims to provide "the Language of Human Experience." It offers a view of human experience as Brene Brown experienced it -- as a child who grew up with alcoholism, projection, excesses, and hurt after hurt. Tenuous friendships ended because her family relocated so many times. No one had her back until she married her awesome husband Steve. Brene Brown believes that this experience of life is what the experience of human life is for everyone. Everything is hard. Writing the book was so hard. Living up to expectations is so hard. Curiosity is so hard.
Isn't it time to point out that not everything in life leads potentially to discomfort or to hurt? Not everything requires this much thinking, analyzing, researching, sorting, coding, defining, puzzling, introspection or self-disclosure. Not everything leads to so much potential exposure and vulnerability. Again and again.
When are we ever going to learn that a balanced and happy life can not be found in some kind of written "Atlas" (filled with academic research and an experts' definitions) that depicts life as endlessly difficult but then magically leads to a better life and more meaningful connection?
Readers already know what disappointment is, or grief, or gratitude, or belonging or surprise. This book is helpful in that it adds depth to our ways of perceiving and understanding our experiences, and it will improve readers' ability to discern one type of experience from another, but the amount of hype surrounding this book obscures a much more important message. The person you need in your life is not Brene Brown. The person you need is the person who has your back, and you have theirs. Find that person (or ideally persons) and make your own map of the world together.
Surprisingly, this is exactly what Brene Brown did. What is remarkably different about "Atlas of the Heart" as compared to Brene Brown's five best-sellers is not the look and feel of this book. What is remarkably different is that for the very first time ever she openly acknowledges from the start the people who helped her and had her back.
In the past, Brene Brown presented herself as the lone researcher, holed up alone coding the data, and then alone on the stage facing criticism. Her husband Steve and her therapist Diane were the only ones named as people who were there for her consistently. Yet, in this book, on page xxvi, she includes a photo of the nine therapists who helped her identify the set of emotions most important to be able to name. She then acknowledges Dr. Ronda Dearing and writes "I couldn't have done this work without her." In the past, this would have appeared in the "Acknowledgements" section. By moving this information about her process up front, Brene Brown is suggesting the recipe for a better life. With the right people, our lives are better, our work is better, things turn out to be, as she puts it "an amazing experience!" So it took her a long, long time to learn how to find the people to take the journey with.
The one take-away from the book that is truly helpful is that whatever work we are doing (including the work of parenting) is less hard and is more amazing when we're with people we can trust and can turn to. I hope that in the interviews and the promotion for the book Brene Brown will shift the discourse from what she ~alone~ did to write the book and what she ~alone~ hopes that the book will achieve to what she and her colleagues did to write the book and what they together hope the book will achieve.
There is an important message for the 21st century suggested in the book: With an adverturous heart and ~the right people~ we can travel anywhere and experience less hurt, less uncertainty, less risk, less shame, less distress, and more meaningful connection. In the ideal world, this "Atlas of the Heart" would be the last self-improvement book anyone would purchase. First order of priorities: do what Brene Brown did and find your people. Have each other's backs. Then go out and experience life as it can be: amazing.
After five best sellers, after searching and searching for the right formula, Brene Brown finally found it. It wasn't what her publisher contracted her to write about. It didn't fit the self-improvement-by-reading paradigm. Good for her for putting it up front instead of in the "Acknowledgements." We don't need more granularity around our emotions, more distinguishable pieces around our emotions. We need each other.
Indeed in the book she says that she and other researchers have said thousands of times "We need to understand emotion so we can recognize it in ourselves and others." but now she says "I no longer believe that we can recognize emotion in other people, regardless of how well we understand human emotion and experience or how much language we have." (pages 263-264 on Kindle).
Since she is a self-proclaimed researcher, I assumed she would show research backing up this claim that goes against a huge body of work that is contrary to this last statement. She presents NO RESEARCH AT ALL. She is basically implying that empathy doesn't work and can't be learned. She only uses a very simplistic, flawed argument that "Too many emotions and experiences present the exact same way" and "How we express what we're feeling and experiencing can be unique as we are." Of course, these last two statements are true but she is making an entirely different point. She is making a "straw man" argument against not first understanding the situation.
I've never heard anyone say you should try to name another person's emotions before understanding the situation. That is just common sense. She uses an example of a wealthy white woman trying to name the emotions of a minority single mother who is crying on the job. Obviously in this situation a person wouldn't start naming emotions without first understanding the situation and might not name emotions at all because she just met this single mother.
Brene misses entirely that when a loved one is experiencing a flood of emotions, the more primitive parts of their brain are in-control and the last thing they want is a series of "how does that make you feel?" questions. They need people who "get them" to help them process these emotions. Also, when a person successfully helps us unpack our "sadness" into the true, underlying emotions such as "worry and frustration", we build a bond with that person. The bond is often more important than the specific situation.
I would respectfully call for Brene to show the evidence backing up her claim.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on December 18, 2021